Buying a stand mixer: everything you need to know
If you’re serious about baking at home then a stand mixer is a great investment. Here we tell you everything you need to know - and pick out some save or splurge options
15 Sep 2014
If you're serious about baking at home then a stand mixer is a great investment.
Back in the good old days, cake ingredients were mixed by hand, with a wooden spoon and elbow grease, but a stand mixer will make light work of beating, kneading and mixing - helping you tackle the most tiresome parts of baking.
Stand mixers come in different shapes and sizes, with different features and functions. However, all should have the following for core baking tasks:
- balloon whisk - beat eggs, whip cream - great for getting air into the mixture
- beater - fold together a cake batter of flour, butter, sugar and eggs and make icing and buttercream
- dough hook - knead dough when making bread or pizza
Other key features to consider
Splash guard and flexible beater
Most stand mixers now come with splash guards, and many have flexible beaters. A splash guard will help keep your cake mix in the bowl - and not on your kitchen sides - when adding ingredients.
A flexible beater will flex around the sides of the bowl so you don't have unmixed flour stuck to it after mixing.
Another way of limiting mess, this will begin the mixing cycle at a slower pace, so you can add your remaining ingredients without too much splatter.
Different stand mixers have different sized bowls. If you're making bigger batches of buns and cakes then look for a model with a larger bowl - 4.6 to 4.8 litres.
If you're just planning on making the odd cake or tray of buns now and again, then look at a smaller bowl - 4 to 4.3 litres.
How much power?
Stand mixers come with a variety of speed settings and powers. Machines are available with motors as powerful as 1,000 watts.
However a 300 watt motor is more than powerful enough for tackling most baking tasks.
Attachments - more than just a baking tool?
Although the stand mixer is traditionally a baking tool, some models can perform other kitchen tasks.
Like making homemade smoothies or soup? Then look for a stand mixer with a jug blender. This feature often comes as standard.
Some stand mixers can also handle tasks for which you'd normally use a food processor - though these attachments often need to be bought separately.
These include a mini food processor attachment for slicing vegetables and a chopper for dicing onion or chopping herbs.
Stand mixer or hand mixer?
A stand mixer is more expensive than a hand mixer, but it offers a number of advantages for the serious home baker.
With a stand mixer you can:
Multi-task: Put the ingredients in your bowl, switch it on and get on with something else. When using a hand mixer both hands are tied up.
Tackle tougher mixing: A stand mixer has more power than a hand mixer and will make light work of heavy mixing, such as kneading bread dough. Look at the KitchenAid Artisan or Kenwood kMix KMX52.
Minimise splashes and spillages: Stand mixers have deep bowls and splashguard tops to keep cake mix splatter off your kitchen sides.
Mix large batches easily: Because stand mixers like the KitchenAid Artisan come with a 4.8-litre bowl, you can mix large batches easily.
Choosing your stand mixer - save or splurge
Save - Kenwood Patissier
The Kenwood Patissier costs less than £140 and is perfect for casual weekend cake bakers with a love of retro style.
Its smaller bowl (4 litres) is great for small-batch weekend baking, while it breezes through cake-making tasks such as whipping, whisking and beating ingredients.
But if your main baking aim is bread there are stand mixers more suited to kneading heavy dough.
In to vintage clothes and style? The colourful, curvy machine will go well in a retro kitchen.
Mid range - Kenwood kMix KMX52
Whether you're baking bread or large batches of buns and cakes, this is a great mixer.
The kMix KMX52 is another retro-looking machine, but it's more chic and sophisticated than curvy and colourful - think Mad Men and Savile Row suits.
Straightforward and simple to use, you'll be up and running straight out of the box.
Expect egg whites whisked stiff and full of air, and cake batters mixed to perfection. It also effortlessly mixes tougher dough such as bread.
However, there are no additional attachments for chopping and slicing - something to consider if you're after an all-round kitchen tool.
Splurge - KitchenAid Artisan
Its stylish, retro curves, century-long heritage and appearance on a certain TV baking show have made the KitchenAid Atrisan a true object of desire.
But this stand mixer is much more than just a pretty case.
It's known to perform particularly well when whisking eggs, creaming butter or mixing a cake batter, while it also makes short work of heavy dough.
The large 4.8-litre bowl is great for making large batches of cakes, bread and buns, while you can also buy attachments to slice vegetables, mince meat and juice fruit.
And when not in use, it looks pretty cool on your kitchen side with its retro '60s styling.